Local News

Decreasing Youth Incarceration May Have Several Benefits, Report Says

A new report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows new trends in the effects of juvenile detention. The report calls residential treatment of minors wasteful and says jailing fewer juveniles does not necessarily result in more youth crime.

Around 20 percent of youth that go through the detention centers in Kentucky are there for minor offenses like truancy or running away, said Tara Grieshop-Goodwin, deputy director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.

“We need to make sure we have sufficient alternatives in place for dealing with the youth, for helping hold the youth accountable but also putting them on the right track to become a successful and contributing member of our society,” she said.

The report researches several states that have programs in place to detour that population to more appropriate resources. Florida, for example, provides family-treatment through its Redirectional Program and the results make it less likely that a youth will be rearrested. It also saved taxpayers $41.6 million over four years by reducing recidivism. But other programs and services cost money to run.

“In Missouri they really shifted the way they handle youth detention and they have smaller facilities and they’re really reserving detention for serious offenders. So I think we do have some states that we should be aspiring to that have reduced the number of youth incarcerated and they have had success in dropping the juvenile crime rate,” said Grieshop-Goodwin.

It costs around $150 a day to keep a minor detained in Kentucky, she said. That’s more than the report estimates nation-wide. Other data shows how education and options are affected later in life for those incarnated youth. And it further gives examples of where decreasing incarcerated youth does not increase youth crime.

Greishop-Goodwin said some Kentucky counties have begun discussing possible changes to the system and she recommends the state should look to other states for models.

Click here to see a copy of the full report and data.

Local News

Kentucky Youth Poverty Rates Rising Faster Than Adults

Child poverty in Jefferson County is increasing more quickly than Kentucky’s adult poverty rate and all areas of the state are contributing to some of the highest child poverty rates in the nation.

Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA) released information it compiled using data from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey. The data shows Jefferson County’s youth poverty rate is still under the state-average, which is currently 26.3 percent. But it’s creeping up and being just shy of the state-average is not good enough, said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.

“Adults fare better in Jefferson County than do adults in the rest of the state. Not so much with kids,” Brooks said.

The information released shows Jefferson County’s total population, including adults and children, increased over the past 10 years to 17.2 percent from 12.4 percent. In comparison, the state’s total population level increased to19 percent from 15.8 percent, according to U.S. Census data.

The data released by KYA is for 13 Kentucky counties. It highlights Pike County as having the highest child poverty rate at 45.5 percent. Bullitt County has the smallest child rate at 11.9 percent with hardly any increase since 2000.

Local News Politics

Teens Will Again Face Lean Summer Job Market

With local unemployment above ten percent, Kentucky Kingdom still closed and federal funds lacking, summer job opportunities for area teenagers will again be scarce.

Mayor Greg Fischer has sought to raise money for summer jobs programs and he’s encouraged businesses to hire students on summer vacation. Kentuckiana Works Executive Director Michael Gritton says an announcement about Fischer’s success will be made soon. He adds that he’s impressed with the action that’s followed Fischer’s call for money and jobs, but he’d like the federal government to pitch in as well.

“In the last two years, the federal government gave organizations like Kentuckiana works money to try to put kids to work in the summer. So part of what we did to try to jumpstart the economy was give kids great job experiences. So last summer we helped more than 700 kids work. The summer before that, it was a little bit under 500. Right? This year we have zero federal money to do that,” he says. “As budgets get tight, there are fewer and fewer of those opportunities. In my view, it’s another one of those places where the federal government has walked away from its obligation. We should be creating job experiences for young people because we know that if we do it, young people will turn out to be better citizens. They will be taxpayers. They will be workers.”

Gritton says only a quarter of students will find jobs this summer nationwide. Ten years ago, half found work.

Local News

Youth Rights Conference to Discuss Food Justice, Bullying and Sex Ed

Bringing together high school students from across the commonwealth, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and the Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace and Justice are hosting the 2011 Youth Rights Conference in Louisville this weekend.

The summit begins Saturday and is aimed at helping students learn more about civil liberties issues. Discussion topics are chosen by the 175 youth participants, and will cover bullying, comprehensive sex education and access to nutritious foods.

ACLU program associate Kate Miller says young people want to engage with decision-makers on important subjects.

“We really want the community to know that these are the issues that are important to students right now and hopefully to consider these issues,” she says. “Some of the students were active on these issues during the 2011 General Assembly. So it’s something that we really need to take seriously.

The conference will run from 9:30 am to 3 pm and will be held at the University of Louisville with workshops led by Planned Parenthood of Kentucky, the Center for Women and Families and the Food Literacy Project at Oxmoor Farm.

State of Affairs

Unemployment & Young Workers

STATE OF AFFAIRS 03/09/11:  Teen unemployment reached almost 26% in January. New college graduates face daunting competition to secure even low-wage, temporary jobs; finding employment related to their desired career is even more challenging. 16-24 year olds have been hit hard by the economic crash. Not only are jobs scarce, but many Baby Boomers aren’t retiring when expected. So what options exist for Kentucky’s young people? How can they gain experience, additional education, and a paycheck? How do they avoid the emotional toll of long term unemployment? We sit down with our guests to explore the causes and possible solutions for unemployment among young workers in the Commonwealth.

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State of Affairs

How Do Our Kids Count in Kentucky and Indiana?

Given the state of the economy, it should come as no surprise that the number of U.S. families in poverty is on the rise. As the latest Anne E. Casey Kids Count report bears out, poverty is having a devastating effect on the kids of Kentucky and Indiana. Join us on Tuesday as we discuss the latest Kids Count report.

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